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BellSouth offers ADSL for Macs

The telco plans to offer its high-speed Net access to Mac users, just in time for Apple's release of the consumer iMac.

    With Apple Computer making its comeback with the upcoming release of iMac and acting CEO Steve Jobs predicting profits, it seems fitting that BellSouth today is singing the praises of Mac users and offering them its high-speed Net access service.

    The Baby Bell did not have specific plans for offering the service to Mac users when it announced the upcoming launch of ADSL (asymmetric digital subscriber line) service in May. ADSL is a technology for delivering fast Internet access over traditional copper telephone lines while leaving those lines open for phone calls.

    Since then, "We've had a lot of questions from Mac users: 'Are you going to invite us to your ADSL party?'" said Ted Creech, a spokesman for BellSouth.

    "There's absolutely no reason ADSL wouldn't be [compatible with the Mac]," he added, noting that all it required was help from Apple in how to configure the Mac for the service.

    BellSouth is not the first to offer high-speed access over copper phone lines to Mac users, however. Pacific Bell, for example, already offers its DSL (digital subscriber line) service to Mac users.

    High-speed access technologies such as ADSL and cable are locked in a battle for market share. With both cable and ADSL, end users have to sign up for special services and also install equipment, whereas most Internet users simply buy a computer and dial-up modem and plug it into their phone lines. But surfing via modem--even those as fast as 56 kbps--can still be frustratingly slow, especially for end users and companies wanting to take advantage of the Internet's multimedia and graphic elements.

    BellSouth's ADSL service will cost between $49.95 and $59.95 per month for combined phone and Internet service, along with an initial $199.95 equipment charge and a $99.95 installation fee.

    Although Mac users still make up a fraction of computer users in general--estimates place Mac at roughly 4 percent of the market--Creech pointed out that the Mac community is known for making itself heard.

    "Mac users are very loyal to their Macs and very vocal," he said. "We've heard from a good number of Mac users" about wanting ADSL service.

    Creech noted that BellSouth is also hoping to curry favor with Mac loyalists so they will spread the word about its high-speed service.

    "Mac users are real evangelists--not only for Mac computers, but also for Net access," he said. "That's the kind of user we want to attract."

    The "asymmetric" aspect of ADSL refers to the varying speeds that information is uploaded and downloaded. BellSouth's service will download information to the user at 1.5 mbps and upload from the user at 256 kbps.

    BellSouth's ADSL service will require a Macintosh Power PC processor or faster, the Mac 7.5.5 operating system or greater, 16 MB of RAM, 20 MB of disk space, and an Ethernet card already installed, the firm said.

    The telco is rolling out ADSL service beginning in late August, and plans to be in seven markets by the fourth quarter, Creech said. The firm is looking to add 23 more markets to its roster in 1999.